The Wall Street Journal, like most other “Conservative but not insane” media outlets, is having a really, really tough time trying to reconcile the need to avoid supporting batsh*t craziness with the necessity of remaining anti-Liberal.
Make no mistake, that’s becoming harder to do by the day. See the more crazy the White House gets, the harder it is to talk your way around the (almost) incontrovertible fact that this administration, along with some GOP lawmakers like Devin Nunes, is engaged in an ongoing effort to obstruct the bipartisan investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Throw in the bungled attempt to “repeal and replace” Obamacare (which was impossible to spin as anything other than a failure) and you’ve got the setup for schizophrenic messaging from the Conservative media.
Over the past several days, the Wall Street Journal has i) warned that Americans may soon see Trump as a “fake President,” ii) freaked out on the GOP for the health care debacle, iii) warned that the outlook for the Trump agenda faces major hurdles, iv) lambasted everyone from the Washington Post to Yale for portraying the President as a fascist dictator when in fact he’s just a (largely) harmless, bumbling idiot.
So that brings us to Wednesday, which finds WSJ walking a journalistic tightrope between not excusing one of the most painfully obvious attempts to obstruct justice that I have frankly ever seen and maligning democrats.
Behold: tying oneself in knots…
Devin Nunes is refusing Democratic calls to resign as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and rightly so. If Mr. Nunes is going to step down for speaking out of school to the White House about his probe, then ranking Democrat Adam Schiff should also resign for spreading innuendo without evidence across the airwaves.
Mr. Nunes blundered when he informed the White House about some information he received without first telling committee Democrats. The intelligence panel is one of the least partisan on Capitol Hill, and Mr. Nunes handed Democrats an opening to cast doubt on his fairness. He should protect his own credibility more than he protects the White House, which has nothing to worry about if President Trump’s claims about his lack of Russian ties are true.
But the main reason Democrats are mad at Mr. Nunes is because he’s raising an issue they’d rather avoid—to wit, that he’s seen documents showing that U.S. intelligence agencies may have “incidentally” collected information about people connected to Mr. Trump.
We know from leaks to the media that one of those people was former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who lost his job over the news. These columns have been asking since the Flynn news broke whether there was a proper FISA court order for this eavesdropping, or why if it was incidental was it spread widely enough to leak? Such information is supposed to be “minimized” and not widely shared so innocent Americans are protected if they happen to speak to a foreigner who is surveilled.
Mr. Trump was wrong to claim that Mr. Nunes has vindicated his famous tweet of three weeks ago that President Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Tower. Mr. Nunes has said he’s seen no evidence of that. But the issue of whether and why the Obama Administration was listening to Trump officials is important for the public to know. The U.S. government must have a very good reason for eavesdropping on political opponents, and civil libertarians would be shouting if Mr. Flynn were a Democrat.
Which brings us to Mr. Schiff, who while posing as a truth-teller is becoming more partisan by the hour. The California Democrat started out telling everyone that there is “circumstantial evidence of collusion” between Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. He later escalated to claiming “there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” without providing any such evidence.
Ok so there are so many silly passages in there that it would be impossible to catalogue them all, but let’s just look at a couple of particularly absurd lines.
First there’s this:
Mr. Nunes blundered when he informed the White House about some information he received without first telling committee Democrats.
So “Mr.” Nunes didn’t “inform” the White House about “some information he received.” Rather, he quite clearly “received” that information from the White House in the first place and then made it a point to show back up at the White House the next day to make it look like he was telling the President something he had “discovered” (as opposed to being handed) the day before.
But the main reason Democrats are mad at Mr. Nunes is because he’s raising an issue they’d rather avoid.
That is laughable. Like seriously laughable. “The main reason” Democrats are mad at Nunes is because Nunes is blatantly engaged in the obstruction of justice. It’s real f*cking simple.
Which brings us to Mr. Schiff, who while posing as a truth-teller is becoming more partisan by the hour.
That’s the same ridiculous argument Trump tried on Friday when “explaining” why he couldn’t get the health bill through. That is, “no Wall Street Journal, ‘Mr. Schiff’ is not ‘becoming more partisan by the hour,’ he was ‘full-partisan’ in the first place because, well, because he’s a Democrat.” See what I’m saying? It’s like when Trump said “we couldn’t get any votes from the Democrats.” Well of course you f*cking couldn’t. And nobody in their right mind thought you would. So you’re tilting at windmills with that excuse. Same thing here.
And finally, this:
He later escalated to claiming “there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” without providing any such evidence.
You mean “evidence” other than this rather suspicious series of events?…
First, we get an exceptionally unfavorable (if you’re Trump) public hearing at which the f*cking FBI Director acknowledges an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and also says there’s no evidence that Trump was ever wiretapped.
Next, out of the goddamn clear blue sky, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (who was also a member of the Trump transition team and who is supposed to be running an investigation into Russian interference in the election) comes out and says he’s seen evidence no one else has seen that partially vindicates Trump’s claim about improper eavesdropping. Nunes got that “evidence” at a NSC facility on the White House grounds. Then, without telling anyone else on the committee he chairs, Nunes shows back up at the White House and talks to the President. Then he tells the press what he’s “learned.”
Three days later, this very same Devin Nunes decides – again, out of the goddamn clear blue sky – to cancel another scheduled public hearing with three Obama officials: Sally Yates, the former Deputy Attorney General (who Trump fired and who told the President that Michael Flynn was chatting with Russians in January); John Brennan, the former head of the C.I.A. (who knows a little something about Russian interference in the election); and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence (who called bullsh*t on Trump’s wiretap claim).
Now – Tuesday evening – Nunes says that not only will he not recuse himself from the investigation, he will not reveal the sources of the “information” he has with anyone – including the other members of his committee.
I seriously doubt the good folks at WSJ actually believe that Adam Schiff is the villain here. The Journal is just doing its part to be a good Conservative mouthpiece.
But they’d better be careful because just as they warned that “most Americans may conclude [Trump] is a fake President,” a few more opinion pieces like the one excerpted above and “most Americans may conclude” they’re a “fake Journal.”